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Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's (Feb 6-11 2012) Automotive News In Case You Were Sleeping


Auto Central Louisville KY February 12,2012; Each week Larry Nutson, The Auto Channel's Chicago Bureau Chief, along with Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Detroit Bureau give you a nugget of the past week's automotive news you may have missed. If you are a car nut like we all are, you can easily "catch up" on these stories as well as the past 16 years 901,102 automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News sure to check out The Auto Channel's Chicago Auto Show Press Pass Coverage , see ya next week L.N.

* We know that sport wagons are popular in Europe and only modestly so here. Chevy announced a station wagon version of the bread-and-butter Cruze for European consumption to be introduced at the March Geneva Motor Show. Sure hope we get it here. It looks mighty cool.

* The Chicago Auto Show, open to the public this week and covered by your intrepid Auto Channel team last week, had a few surprises - one of which was Volvo's announcement that from now on they will use only 4-cylinder engines in their cars. We're wondering if they can maintain an upscale, luxury image with just four-bangers. Well, in this day of direct injection, turbocharging and other technologies it's not that hard to get 300 horsepower out of a 2-liter engine.

* The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) named the 2012 Volkswagen Passat the winner of its second annual Family Vehicle of the Year award.

* The classically British Morgan sports car company, so traditional in orientation that their cars still look like something from the 1940s, is set to introduce an electric version with a manual transmission at the Geneva show. This is only a concept but if it generates substantial interest it could go into production. They will also show their new Plus 8 with BMW's 4.8-liter engine under the retro bonnet.

* Chevy Volt sales continue to suffer. Automotive News this week reported that 104 Volts had been allocated to 14 dealers in the New York City market and the dealers only committed to taking 31 of them. Regardless of the complete exoneration of the Volt in the fires resulting from NHTSA testing, the public is not warming up to the extended range electric Volt. Judging from the Detroit and Chicago auto shows there is considerably less enthusiasm for electrics of all kinds than was the case just one year ago.

* Saying there is no way to salvage the company, the administrator handling finances for Saab Cars North America said it will be liquidated. A buyer is being sought for the parts distribution business. Remaining Saab dealers and GM dealers are no longer honoring warrantees.

* A number of recalls are in the news. Honda is recalling certain 2011-2012 Ridgeline vehicles for a discrepancy between the spare tire and the information on the vehicle's tire information label. Honda is also recalling certain 2012 Accord and Crosstour vehicles for an out-of-specification air bag inflator. And Toyota is recalling certain 2011 RAV4 vehicles for an incorrect specification propellant in the airbag inflator.

* Fisker automotive has stopped work at its plant in Delaware while it renegotiates a $529 million dollar loan from the Dept. of Energy. Fisker has missed required targets and the funding is at risk.

* And in yet another sign of warmer weather the NHRA Winternationals take place this weekend in Pomona California. BTW, we hear that Dodge will reveal its all-new "more like production" Charger NASCAR Sprint Cup car in a few weeks. One industry insider was overheard referring to the current NASCAR Sprint Cup COT racecars as all Monte Carlos just with different stickers on them.

* And the week came to a close with the news that U.S. safety regulators have opened a preliminary investigation into consumer complaints of driver's side door fires in 2007 model year Toyota Camry sedans and RAV4 crossover SUVs.